[lg policy] Why Welsh language campaigners have plastered road signs with stickers

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Wed Nov 28 11:10:34 EST 2018


 Why Welsh language campaigners have plastered road signs with stickers

Council bosses said they are taking action amid protest

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By
Steve Bagnall <https://www.dailypost.co.uk/authors/steve-bagnall/>Journalist

   - 00:00, 27 NOV 2018
   - Updated16:29, 27 NOV 2018

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[image: Sticker placed by Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg on Wrexham road sign
in protest]Sticker placed by Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg on Wrexham road
sign in protest (Image: Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg)
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Welsh language campaigners have plastered stickers on council road signs in
a protest.

Eighty English only ‘Give Way’ signs across Wrexham
<https://www.dailypost.co.uk/all-about/wrexham> county have had the Welsh
‘yield’ instruction ‘Ildiwch’ stuck on them over the weekend.

Aled Powell, chair of the Wrexham branch of the Welsh language group
Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, says the signs should be bilingual and claims
they have been put up illegally.

But Wrexham County Borough Council
<https://www.dailypost.co.uk/all-about/wrexham-council> chiefs insists they
are older signs which only need to be made bilingual when they are replaced.

Mr Powell said: “Since before Wrexham Council was formed in 1996, there has
been a legal duty on each authority in Wales to ensure road signs are in
both Welsh and English.

“But when I moved to live in the Wrexham area I noticed one type of sign
stood all over the place without any Welsh, like relics of a distant past
when some people believed English was the only language of any worth.”
[image: Wrexham Guildhall]
Wrexham Guildhall where the council sits (Image: Trinity Mirror)

He added: “The unique shape of these particular signs means there’s not
enough space to place the Welsh word, ‘ildiwch’, beneath the English term,
‘give way’, so Wrexham council had to make an exception to their Welsh
language policy.

“But rather than place the Welsh first, the council decided not to put the
Welsh at all.

“The council’s Welsh language officer claims the authority had received
direction from a higher authority exempting these particular signs from
Welsh language legislation.

'Welsh is a foreign language, use English' Caernarfon poet told by his bank
<https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/welsh-foreign-language-use-english-15202386>

“I’ve written and asked the Welsh Language Commissioner, the Welsh
Government and the Wales Office of the Government in Westminster and not
one has been able to confirm the council’s explanation.”

Wrexham council's lead member for communities, partnerships, public
protection and community safety Cllr Hugh Jones, said: “We understand that
all new or replacement Give Way signs need to be compliant with the Welsh
Language Standards – however, the council is not required to immediately
replace signs installed prior to the introduction of the Welsh Language
Standards in March, 2016, and any such replacements would take place as and
when the current signs needed replacing.

“In those instances where signs need replacing due to issues of wear or
damage, we will of course ensure any replacements are bilingual, with the
Welsh above the English.”

It comes as the local authority was recently criticised by the Welsh
Language Commissioner Meri Huws for displaying Welsh signs with errors.

Fourteen complaints from members of the public were received by the
Commissioner, five of which were not considered valid.

They also included about signs which were only in English on the doors of
the former People’s Market and Welsh text being displayed underneath
English on a sign below a Christmas tree in Wrexham.
[image: Tŷ Pawb arts centre in Wrexham]
Tŷ Pawb arts centre in Wrexham - formerly the People's Market (Image: Mark
Williams)

Ms Huws has taken enforcement action to ensure any text displayed on signs
put up are shown correctly in Welsh.

She has also ordered the council to ensure Welsh wording is not treated
less favourably than English.

The Commissioners report will be considered by members of the council's
customers, performance, resources and governance scrutiny committee
tomorrow, November 28.
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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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